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Hamas-Fatah divide turns the lights out on Gazans

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The Gaza Strip needs between 280 and 300 megawatts of electricity each day, but struggles by with an average of just 167 megawatts, says Usama Dabbour, a spokesman for the Gaza Electrical Distribution Company (GEDCo,) which provides power to Gaza and collects utility payments from residents.

GEDCo oversees the three sources of power to Gaza: a local power plant, which uses fuel bought from an Israeli company, Dor Alon; the Israel Electric Corporation, which delivers power to the Gaza grid; and an Egyptian electric company.

From 2006 to November 2009 the European Union (EU) bought fuel for Gaza directly from Israel's Dor Alon, paying 50 million shekels ($13 million) per month. GEDCo says that bought enough fuel to power two turbines and produce 60 megawatts of power per day.

But since December 2009 the EU stopped paying directly for fuel as part of an overall cut in its financial support for Palestinian government institutions. Dabbour says the EU has earmarked 50 million shekels for Gaza fuel purchases that is now being channeled through the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and that Fatah officials there are diverting some of the cash to other purposes. “Ramallah has transferred the money for fuel to another budget line that does not involve fuel,” says Dabbour.

Both Ramallah and the European Union firmly deny his charge. “No funds were given directly to the PA to buy fuel from Dor Alon and therefore these could not be ‘diverted’ to any other ‘acquisitions,’” says Antonia Zafeiri, a spokesperson for the EU Mission to the UN Relief and Works Agency based in Jerusalem.

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